SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan County is at a turning point. Very soon, growth from the completion of I-85 will begin to benefit the county, and now is the time to prepare the workforce for the new opportunities that lie ahead.
For more than 50 years, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been committed to anticipating the region’s educational and industry needs and to helping Rowan County stay competitive and relevant in economic development. Last year, the College was the fastest growing community college in North Carolina. Even in a time when unemployment is low, enrollment is up 6%, making the College the eighth largest of the 58 community colleges in the state.
The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees recently passed a resolution in support of a bond referendum to support construction of a technology education complex on the North Campus in Salisbury. This investment would not only allow the College to continue its forward-thinking approach to offering cutting-edge programs to meet the needs of emerging industry, but would strengthen its working relationship and alignment with local educational entities including Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Catawba College and Livingstone College.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s mission is to prepare the workforce of the region, ensuring that residents of Rowan County can become more prosperous by raising the educational aspirations and achievements of themselves and their families.
“Our community deserves up-to-date facilities to prepare students for high-wage, high-tech jobs in fields such as robotic and virtual welding, advanced machining and automotive technology,” President Carol Spalding said. “The job market is bursting with opportunity in today’s advanced technological trades, and we want to help students achieve success in these fields and achieve sustainable futures full of promise and continued opportunity.”
The proposed bond referendum would help Rowan-Cabarrus do the following:
- Expand and enhance technical programs directly related to Rowan County’s workforce and economic development needs.
- Support dual-credit programs that allow high school students to participate in career and technical education through early college and Career & College Promise programs, which allow them to save money on future college credits. The average high school student can save approximately $600 per semester by enrolling in courses part-time at Rowan-Cabarrus prior to graduation.
- Develop a first-of-its-kind fire training facility focused on firefighter safety.
While the College previously has received support from the county for renovations and from the state for a new building in 2010, the last new construction classroom facility funded by Rowan County was built in 1976 for the North Campus auditorium and library.
“It takes nearly four years from the time a bond issue is approved to the point of being able to open the doors of a new facility,” said Chair Carl Short, Jr.
The College’s welding, machining and automotive programs are at capacity, which prohibits expansion to meet the growing needs of industries looking for skilled workers. Modernizing programming and facilities in these fields will allow the county to be increasingly more competitive with site selection visits for new and expanding industry.
“It is not only time for us to start thinking about taking big steps, it is time for us to start taking big leaps,” said Greg Edds, chair of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. “I believe this is the most important thing we have done as commissioners to align ourselves for the future.”
Plans for the bond referendum are being discussed with the Rowan County Commission, and the College is hopeful the effort will receive support from the community.
In the coming months, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will work to inform Rowan County residents about the immediate and positive impacts these projects will have on our community its citizens.
“We believe in thinking ahead, forming strong partnerships and working hard to empower our citizens and community,” Spalding said. “We are grateful for the support of Rowan County and our educational partners as we serve today’s needs and build the workforce of tomorrow.”